Authorities in the Maldives today suspended 56 lawyers, including all those defending dissidents, for demanding the rule of law in the politically restive archipelago.
The Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) said those who made the demand in a petition were suspended indefinitely because they had violated several laws and were in contempt of court.
"The petition is an unlawful document and signing it is an act that interferes and puts pressure on the justice system," said a DJA statement.
The ban applies to over a third of the 150 lawyers in private practice in the Maldives and to the entire legal team of exiled opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed and of other dissidents.
The holiday paradise has been in political turmoil since the toppling of Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected president, in February 2012.
He is living in exile in Britain after escaping a 13-year prison sentence for a terrorism conviction which the United Nations has called flawed and politically motivated.
Lawyer Husnu al-Suood said the group made the petition to the Supreme Court which refused to accept it. On Sunday they refiled the petition with the country's attorney general.
"The thrust of our petition is the demand for rule of law," al-Suood told AFP by telephone. "Last night we went to the AG with a copy of the petition and today we have been suspended."
Last month the last remaining opposition leader, Qasim Ibrahim, was handed a 38-month prison sentence for bribing lawmakers in March in a failed bid to impeach Speaker Abdulla Maseeh, a close ally of President Abdulla Yameen.
Ibrahim was allowed to travel to Singapore last week for urgent medical treatment for a heart condition.
Since coming to power in November 2013 Yameen has led a crackdown on political dissent in the Indian Ocean nation of 340,000, raising fears over the country's stability and denting its image as an upmarket honeymoon destination.
Yameen narrowly defeated former leader Nasheed in a controversial 2013 election run-off.